Refugios Salkantay: Machu Picchu Adventure Tour: Trek the Salkantay

Machu Picchu Adventure Tour: Trek the Salkantay

Cusco, Peru

Refugios Salkantay

Community-based cooperative

4 days/3 nights
From$250 USDper person

Refugios Salkantay is a community organization comprised of local families in tight collaboration, communication, understanding, and mutual support, working to provide authentic, mutually beneficial travel experiences.

Tour Highlights

  • Take an alternative trip to Machu Picchu and connect with families in the Peruvian mountains while supporting small communities engaging in authentic tourism.
  • Enjoy locally-sourced coca mate and chocolate with families in the mountains.
  • Hike through the beautiful Salkantay Mountains and visit Machu Picchu.

Tour revenue will be invested in supporting and advocating for local families.

Tour Details

  • Frequency

    Any day by appointment

  • Start Time

    5-5:30 AM

  • Duration

    4 days/3 nights

  • Good For


  • Languages


  • Tour Participants

    2 to 12

  • Difficulty

    Hard (over 6 miles/ 9 km walking distance, intense physical effort)

  • Clothing & Equipment

    Backpack, Headlamp/ flashlight, Hiking boots, Mosquito repellent, Rain gear, Sunglasses, Sunscreen lotion, Warm clothes

Tour Description

Explore the Sacred Valley in an authentic and immersive experience like no other. Spend four days hiking through the valley with the final destination of Machu Picchu, enjoying local meals and meeting community members along the way. Summit Salkantay and spend time in the cloud forest.

Day 1:
The organization will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco between 5 and 5:30 AM to begin your expedition on the Salkantay Trail, on your way to Machu Picchu, stopping beforehand in Mollepata. One of the organization’s employees, an experienced local, will meet you in “La Casona de Mechita,” a small tourist restaurant, and provide you with information about your upcoming hike, distributing water and small snacks. You will then be driven to Challacancha and hike for about two hours to the Soraypampa refuge. Sip on mate made from coca leaves, a traditional remedy to altitude sickness. Settle into your rooms in Soraypampa, which is equipped with comfortable bedrooms, complete bathrooms, and hot showers in rooms with queen beds or rooms with two or three single beds. Refugios Salkantay offers savory, nutritious, local food and welcomes vegetarians. After a hearty meal, you will join the organization on an acclimating hike from the hostel to Humantay Lake. Take in the breathtaking views of Mount Salkantay. Imagine how the Incans would have looked up in awe at this sacred mountain. The first part of the hike should take three hours from start to finish, will prepare you for the more adventurous second day. After finishing this exciting first day, return to the hostel for a cocktail and deliciously prepared dinner.

Day 2:
Hopefully you had a good night’s rest, because this is the big day! Wake up with coca mate at 5 or 5:30 am and enjoy a delicious breakfast, served by the members of the organization and their families. Take a lunch to go, a small snack, some sublime, local chocolate, and a large bottle of water. A volunteer from the community will put your personal belongings on a horse and bring them to the destination, so the climb will be less burdensome. The first hour is easy as the elevation increases slowly along the valley. Keep your head up and take in the amazing views at the top of Salkantay, the second highest peak in the Sacred Valley. Zigzag up the rest of the trail to the highest point of the hike, about 4700 meters above sea level. The summit should take 3 to 4 hours before a gradual descent. Take a rocky path down for 2 hours before reaching Huayracmachay. A local family will share their roof for lunch and hot mate or coffee. Enjoy all you can eat and share warm conversations with your hosts!

In the afternoon, prepare to leave the dry landscape of the highlands and enter the higher region of the Amazon jungle, called the "cloud forest”. You will have a 3 hour hike on a wide path of dense forest. Marvel at the gorgeous hills, decorated with expansive landscapes and a great variety of wildlife and native plants. The forest for much of the year is hot or has a mild temperature. Upon completing this magnificent hike, you will arrive at Chaway, where private transportation awaits to travel by car for 40 minutes until you reach Lucmamamba. You will be welcomed by a local family who will take you to your room, equipped with a private bath and hot shower. Rest up from your challenging hike and enjoy a nourishing dinner. The Refuge of Lucmabanba is found within the Pure Natural Environment surrounded by plantations of coffee, bananas and many other crops. Take in the sights and smells of this agricultural paradise before your third day.

Day 3:
After an early breakfast, the local family will show you a well-cleared trail and you will have the opportunity to enjoy a small part of the famous Inca Path. After an upward climb of 2 hours, with impressive views of the Santa Teresa Valley, you will reach the Inca Llactapata just ahead of Machu Picchu. This will be the first archaeological zone that you’ll see from the lost city of the Incas. Rest for a few minutes and absorb the ancient beauty. You will not only be able to see the ruins of Machu Picchu from there, but also Hyaynapicchu and the mountain of Machu Picchu. After the ruins of Llactapata, continue your hike downward for 2 hours. On this hike, you will always have views of Machu Picchu, so keep your head up and experience this incredible place like its ancient peoples once did. Later, you will reach the Hidroelectrica train station, where you will find several restaurants available to you. After the lunch break, continue for 3 hours by rail until you reach the village of Aguas Calientes, where you’ll be greeted by hot springs, hotels, and restaurants. Settle in for the evening and prepare for your trip to Machu Picchu the following morning! Those wishing to visit Machu Picchu, Huaynapicchu, or the mountain are highly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

Day 4:
Wake up bright and early to visit the wonder of Machu Picchu. The control point is open from 6 am until 5 pm and you can go up in a bus (US$24). You can spend some time at Aguas Caliente and purchase your tickets or you can also go up by foot, which will take you about 1 hour and 30 minutes. You need to buy your entrance ticket before departing on your trek so make sure to budget time in your morning schedule for that. Once you are in Machu Picchu, stroll through the city and await the sunrise to take in the most picturesque views of Machu Picchu. Explore the sacred city and take in the natural views around you. When you're ready, you can take the bus back to Aguas Calientes before returning by train and bus to Ollantaytambo and Cusco (return transportation not included in tour price).

Please note: this tour has a minimum of 2 people. Solo travelers may be able to join previously scheduled groups.

Tour price includes:
- Pick up from your hotel
- Private transportation (Cusco- Mollepata / Mollepata -Soraypampa / Chalway - Lucmabamba)
- Hot shower in Soraypampa and Lucmabamba
- Towels, washcloths, and soap in all cabins
- Rooms in private cabins in Soraypampa and Lucmabamba
- Horses and riders (for carrying equipment and personal items) for 70% of the hike (Huayracmachay -Chalway / Hidroeléctrica - Aguas Calientes)
- First aid kit in all shelters
- All meals except breakfast on day 1
- Warm blankets for sleeping
- Bottled water on days 1 and 2

Tour price does not include:
- Breakfast on day 1 in Mollepata
- Return transportation (Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo or Cusco)
- Guide service in Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu

7 Visitor Reviews

    ka ying w ●  Jun 5, 2017

    This beauty is located between mountains just within the start of the salkantay trail. This solar powered facility was build by the owner and his dad. The owner speaks only Spanish and was on his way out to lead a climb/ trek so our interaction was minimal with him. There is wifi, though can be slowed down when multiple people are using it. The outlets to charge your devices are located outside on the rooms (all solar powered). We did not take a shower, so I do not know if there is warm water. It was very cold in the rooms and outside but stacks of blankets were provided in the room. Our own porters cooked the meals with their kitchen. It is a beautiful lodge

    Monica P ●  May 29, 2017

    There is no better way to hike the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu. Flor, Edwin and all the families are genuinely accommodating. The refugees are fantastic and the food is delicious. The trail is beautiful, strenuous, and rewarding. It's a great experience in nature, through villages, and seeing the ruins.

    NHroundabout ●  May 15, 2017

    Our family group of 5, (two in 60s, 3 late 20s), had a fantastic two weeks in Peru. The Refugios Salkantay trek was the highlight. The accommodations, meals and advice were just perfect for us. It was definitely arduous but not impossible for reasonably fit people. Light layers is the key for comfort as the temps could vary dramatically every day. We had a mix of hiking shoes/boots and the consensus was the ankle high boots were better for this hike due to the areas of deep mud on the trail. A good quality rainproof jacket is essential. Also three days in Cuzco to acclimate seems to be a key to enjoying the trip.

See all 7 reviews

Tour Start Address

Su hotel en Cusco, Cusco, Cusco, Peru

How To Get There

The organization will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco.

More About Refugios Salkantay


To advocate for and support local families, joined together to work as authentic tour operators.

Main Programs

  • English Language Classes

  • Scholarship Program